Delaware residents can take advantage of free cell phone services offered through Assurance Wireless and SafeLink Wireless. These free services are offered to low-income individuals as a result of the Lifeline and Link-Up programs.
SafeLink and Assurance offer free airtime in addition to the free cell phones. The number of free airtime units vary from carrier to carrier and are based on plan selection.
Discounted Home Phone Service
According to the Universal Services Administration Company (USAC), the company that co-administers the LifeLine program along with the Federal Communications Commission, Delaware is considered a Federal Default State. What this means is that the state of Delaware (along with a few other states) does not provide additional phone discounts for Lifeline customers above and beyond what the Federal government offers. In other words, most states provide additional telephone discounts above and beyond what the government offers. Delaware is not one of those states. That may be a contributing factor as to why the Lifeline discounted service is offered by so few telephone carriers in Delaware.
As of this writing, May 2011, the only other company participating in the Delaware Lifeline/Link-Up program in addition to Assurance Wireless and SafeLink Wireless is Verizon. According to the USAC website, Verizon offers a discount of $8.20 off the basic monthly phone bill. In addition to the discount, through the Link-Up program, low -income individuals can offset the initial installation cost. The Link-Up program will cover up to 50% of the original installation cost (up to a maximum of $30).
Qualifying for the Lifeline/Link-Up Programs
Because Delaware is federal default state in order to qualify for the program you must either participate in one of the following government assistance programs:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) or Section 8
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- National School Lunch Program’s free lunch program
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Or, have a household income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guideline .
Applying for Free or Discounted Phones
To apply for the free services offered through either Assurance or SafeLink, visit their website and complete the online application. To apply for the discounted phone service through Verizon, call them at 1-800-837-4966 and request a Lifeline application. Application processing time may take several weeks.
You may only participate in either the free wireless program or the Verizon discounted program. You may not participate in more than one Lifeline program per economic unit. Additionally, being a Lifeline customer doesn’t mean your service won’t be interrupted if you don’t pay your bill.